From Larry Brooks of the New York Post, ahead of tonight’s Rangers-Jets game at MSG, for which Blueshirts coach Alain Vigneault has yet to announce his starting goalie:
If it’s Henrik Lundqvist, it is dog bites man. If, however, it is [Cam] Talbot again, it becomes man bites dog in a Rangers’ universe in which The King has not sat for consecutive games when healthy since Feb. 5-7, 2011.
Talbot has been very good this season — in fact, Brooks calls the 26-year-old out of the University of Alabama in Huntsville a “revelation” — with a 6-1-0 record and .944 save percentage.
Lundqvist, meanwhile — the goalie many consider the best in the world, not to mention the one who can become an unrestricted free agent this summer — has been good, but not great, with a .917 save percentage in 19 starts.
“I know who I’m going with [but] I haven’t talked to the goaltenders yet,” Vigneault said Saturday, per the Post.
From the outside looking in, there’s no real controversy here. Lundqvist’s body of work as an NHL goalie (524 career starts) isn’t even comparable to Talbot’s (7 career starts). But if Talbot gets the nod tonight, it will still be the major topic of conversation around the team.
We’ll give the last word to Brooks:
You know, I can’t think of an analogous situation in the NHL where a team’s most valuable player has had this much trouble getting a new deal. Marquee guys get taken care of — and relatively quickly. This one seems odd. It has from the start that didn’t start nearly as early as it should have.
This isn’t offered as an excuse for Lundqvist, who not only has never sought one, but has held himself accountable all season. But there’s no one around who doesn’t wonder whether the contract — or lack thereof after this season—is playing a role in the goaltender’s uncharacteristic inconsistency.
Update: Literally right when we pressed publish on this post, Talbot left the morning skate first, a strong indication he’ll start tonight.